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Scott Signs Budget, Vetoes $400 Million

Regan McCarthy

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has signed the state’s new budget into law. He used his line item veto power to cut almost $400 million in projects from the budget and Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith said he’s worried about some of the items the governor axed—like water and road projects—which Smith said really affect small communities.

“I mean, these small communities are still struggling, and they’re trying to come out of the low property taxes and the inability to get property taxes the last couple of years. And these projects would one, help the city, but also spur economic development in these cities. And for the governor to just ignore that and just cut so many water and road projects for these cities is just disappointing,” Smith said.

Smith argued, the lawmakers who passed the budget know more intimately what their communities need. And he said it seems to him the governor’s vetoes ignore that.

“You go through and line item veto different things for different communities and those people who represent those communities know the needs of it. And I think it is important that you have checks and balances, but you have one person vetoing so many projects of a budget that 40 members voted for—40 members,” Smith said.

Meanwhile many Republicans are thanking Scott for his work, although both the House Speaker and the Senate President say they don’t agree with all Scott’s veto decisions. And the governor is defending his actions. He said he used a specific rubric when considering each budget item.

“My filter was this: one, is it going to help our families get more jobs? Two, will it help improve our education system in our state. And three, will it make our government more efficient so we can keep the cost of living low in our state?”

One item Scott vetoed was a 3 percent tuition increase for the state’s colleges and universities. The governor has been adamantly opposed to any hikes in the cost of higher education.

“I am absolutely committed to keeping tuition low. This is not a political decision. This is a decision for Florida families. Tuition cannot continue to keep going up the way it’s been going up. I don’t care whether we’re talking about a 3 percent tuition increase or 1-percent tuition increase. We need to hold the line on tuition, Scott said.

Scott said he’s asked the state’s university and college presidents to start brain storming more ways to decrease the cost of higher education.  The governor's other budget vetoes include a project at Gulf Coast State College in Northwest Florida, money for a historical documentary on St. Augustine,  and an anti-drug-abuse initiative in Paso County.

For more news updates, follow @regan_mccarthy on Twitter!